Good planning can make for a smooth estate administration

Whether one lives in Texas or elsewhere, there are some common points to remember when getting ready for a first meeting with an estate planning attorney. One of the goals of estate planning will be to assure a smooth estate administration at the person's death. Usually, the bedrock of the estate papers in that respect will be the last will and testament.

The will provides a comprehensive floor plan to the estate's attorney and to the personal representative, who is also referred to as the executor of a will.  The person who makes the will, i.e., the testator, will want to come to the attorney meeting with a clear list of the asset distributions to be made in the will. The testator should give the attorney specific details regarding the identity of the executor or co-executors, and any alternates that will be listed.

The testator should also be prepared to instruct the attorney regarding the creation of any testamentary trusts. Where there are minors, or other persons unable to manage their own affairs, who are slated to receive significant property distributions, it is often prudent to establish a trust fund to stagger those distributions appropriate to the situation.  A person or institution must be named as trustee for each trust fund, but it can be the same person or institution.

The testator will instruct the attorney on what will happen if any of the beneficiaries under the will predecease the testator. A document outside of the will that is important in Texas and all other jurisdictions is the durable power of attorney. The testator will likely want to have a trusted friend or loved one in charge of his or her affairs if serious disability or incompetence sets in at a future time. This is an important document in the estate planning scheme of things and its successful implementation during the testator's life, where appropriate, could save the estate considerable expenses and could later make the process of estate administration substantially easier to carry out.

Source: nwtimes.com, "Be prepared when meeting with the attorney", Christopher Yugo, Oct. 2, 2016

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